Thursday, May 26, 2016

Block 22: Old Red Barn

 Every farm needs an old red barn, doesn't it?

While I was growing up, we had four chicken barns. Three had layers in them and the fourth was used for raising the chicks.

As I recall, they were identical except that one was shorter. But from the front, they all looked just about the same. I assume that is why someone decided to paint the trim on the barns different colours.

The first one was red, then blue or was it brown? Wait...let me see if I can find a picture...

Here we go:
You get the picture now, I'm sure. Then you could tell someone to go to the red barn or the blue one, etc. Except we never did. We always referred to them by number. Simply "#1" or "#4". Not even "Barn 1" which is what I heard others sometimes say. We would just say, "Dad's working in #2." Never seemed odd at the time...

Anyway, all this is to say that we didn't really have an old red barn, but if you stretch the truth a little, I could at least say we had a red barn. And now I've also had a nice little trip down Memory Lane.

Back to the quilt block, this is one of the 12" blocks I'm doing (to match the farm house). So although there were quite a number of pieces in the block, they weren't unmanageably tiny.

The barn door is made up of quarter-square triangles. The designer had you do them in a curious way. The technique works well and is common enough, but you ended up with four blocks and three are extra that you don't use!! (There are other methods just as easy and simple that don't make extra blocks.) I decided this was an opportunity for experimenting with seam pressing.

So here are two of the blocks. Can you tell which one has the seams pressed open and which had them pressed to one side?
How about these ones?
Here are the backs of the first two:
And here's the second pair:
Did you get them right? I think the open seams lie a lot flatter on the front and in this case that is what I wanted.

Here is the door in the block with little duckies in the window:
Here's the back of another part of the block:
I chose to press all the seams that I could toward the red fabric. That would make the barn stand up a little from the background. So in this case, although the peak of the roof is made from a flying goose unit and the seam would normally be pressed toward the outside, I pressed them toward the center. It makes the point bulkier but it worked.

You can also see that I made the unusual choice of dividing the one horizontal seam. It's pressed up in the middle (to keep the red dominant over the window), but there was no way the seams on the side were letting me press them up and back on themselves. So I snipped the seam allowance and pressed it as shown. (No quilting police showed up at my door either.)

Here it is from the front:
I don't know how obvious it is in the picture, but I think you can see that the window is slightly depressed compared to the red barn. Subtle I know, but I can't help trying to manage it.

And, finally, here is the whole block:
A nice classic red barn with a quilt block door and duckies inside. :)

Here are all the blocks in the virtual layout:
Here is Kim's (first) block:
Yes, she did a 6" one first. I don't remember exactly, but I think she meant to do a 12" but cut the 6" pieces out of habit and put it together anyway. And then the red fabric she used was too thin to make a nice block so she decided to do it again and made the 12" version below.
 I love the red barn board fabric she used. It will go so nicely with the muted tones she is using. (Better than the bright classic red that I used.)

And of course, the animals in all her windows are cute as anything!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I haven't been knitting too much lately, but I picked up the needles enough to finish these three bibs I've been working on since the end of March.
A couple people I know have just had a baby or are about to, so I felt a deadline on these. None of them are exactly the same because I was making them up as I go. They're all double knit in the centre with a garter stitch border.

And just because I am obsessed with Kitchenering and managed it in garter, I'll show that too:
Can you find it? Don't worry, you're not really supposed to!
I used it to join the end of the neck band to the beginning.

I'm also working on a liturgical stole. I knit the base a while ago and finally figured out how I could use it. I'm also going to apply some embroidered symbols:
Three down, one to go. Deadline for this is June 5 when it will be presented to our new minister when she is installed that day.

I applied to have my orange and grey zig zag quilt in the Shipshewana Quilt Festival and just found out Monday that it was accepted!!'s my first time and I am very excited.

This also means I have to add an identification label and a hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt before June 18 when I have to turn it in.

I've done a little more quilting on my Mt Robson quilt. Here's a piece of the sky
 and a bit of the water:
The quilt is too thick for my machine to free motion quilt comfortably and I have to go painfully slow. But I did get the sky and water done and now I only have the ground (very little area) and the mountains left! The only deadline associated with this project is that I hope to enter it in the county fair at the beginning of August.

Of course, I have been keeping up with the Farm Girl Vintage I'm doing with my sister. In addition to sewing blocks, I took some time to play with layouts.

My first idea with to have the four 12" blocks in the corners with the 6" blocks filling the rest:
So the blue squares are the 12" and the green are the 6". The black outlined squares are like cornerstones, but set on point. Currently I am thinking they will be a brighter print--all of them done in the same fabric.

But I realized that this would make the 12" squares hard to see on a bed because they would be hanging off the edges. So I looked at a layout that would put them in the centre, sort of like a medallion quilt:
I wasn't happy with the spacing around the larger blocks, so I kept trying. This is the design I landed on:
It gets the larger blocks toward the centre but still has a nice spread out grid feeling to it. There are also fewer cornerstones so that makes it easier! :)

Yes, I have a new block to show you, but I'll do that in its own post later this week.

And finally, briefly for now, I fell in love with a fabric line, had to have it, and had to start a new project with it right away.
I did four blocks to try out the idea I had. I need to get a little more fabric to get some more variety in the striped sections and to complete the pattern I have in mind, but I am itching to work more on this project. No deadline--just fun!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Block 21: Haystack Block (Making Hay)

The haystack block was just a matter of adding strips to an ever-increasing center. I didn't like all of the fabrics that were in the "kit" I made earlier, so I replaced a few.
I have to decide whether to put in the quilt with the longest strips horizontal or vertical.
I'll probably make the final decision when I know where it ends up in the quilt and what's around it.

This block was proof that my seams are a little big. I stitched by hand and made sure to stitch inside the marked quarter-inch line, but apparently I need to adjust. You can see that it pulls in where there are more seams and every time I added a strip, I had to stretch it a bit to make it fit.
I pressed the first two seams open so the centre is nice and flat. After that, though, it made more sense to press the to the newly-added strip of fabric with no seams in it.

Here is a look at all of the blocks so far.
Here is Kim's block:
She went with mostly oranges and yellows since it's a Haystack Block. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Block 20: Furrows

This week's block was a pretty simple affair.
Eight flying geese units arranged in columns. I debated the layout, but went with simple matched pairs (browns, blues, lilac, multi). Since it was a simple block, I decided it could handle a busier background fabric.

Here is the back:
After the flying geese units were assembled, I decided to press the rest of the seams open. The pieces just didn't lay right when they were pressed to one side.

Here are all the blocks together:
And here is Kim's block:
She went with a more diverse choice of colours but with mostly graphic/geometric patterns. The colours will fit in her quilt beautifully.

Kim was asking how I did my mock layout and since she doesn't have the software to do it, I put this together.
Happy surprise, Kim!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Playing with Wooden Blocks

On Saturday morning, I caught part of the Quilting Arts episode that airs at 7:00. (I early on a Saturday!) One segment was about stamping on fabric with your own stamps. I didn't see the part where she made the stamps, but I gathered that it was basically hot melt glue on wood blocks. I did a little more Googling and Pinteresting but didn't pick up much more information.

But I couldn't get it out of my mind so after completing a few chores, I let myself play in the afternoon. I dug through the wood scrap pile by Troy's table saw and picked up some suitably sized blocks. I sanded them a bit to avoid splinters and then sat down at my desk to experiment.

I started with the easiest one--wrapping the block with cotton string:
 First a more random design, and then something more structured:
I applied paint to the stamps with a brush and then pushed the stamp onto the paper. I was happy with how the impressions turned out.

Then I moved onto the hot melt glue. I started with an elephant--drew on the block with pencil and then traced it with glue.
Not too bad.

Next was some wood grain:
And then some simple dots:
I was starting to learn to move a little faster and press the still-warm glue onto a non-stick surface so that the stamp texture would be an even height. Later, Troy suggested applying the glue at a comfortable pace and then reheating the whole piece with a heat gun (blow dryer) and then pressing it onto a flat surface. I can still go back and do that to the elephant and wood grain.

I also tried my signature, figuring it would be fun to be able to stamp-sign pieces. When I tried to press the glue flat, it got really blobby, but I tried a impression of it anyway.
Of course, it came out backwards!! Things you know but don't really know until you do them wrong a few times! :)

While Pinteresting, I discovered Julie Booth who described making stamps out of pasta. (Seriously. I'm not talking about a kindergarten teacher.) So I tried a design with angel hair pasta (cause that's what we have on hand).
I love the texture and can imagine an almost limitless number of designs and patterns that I could do with these pasta stamps. I'd like to try spaghetti noodles too because they're a little fatter and will produce a bolder impression (I think).

What will I do with all of these stamps? I don't know. I just wanted to try making them to see how they would come out. And now I have a few ideas of how to improve them and had fun making them. Gluing pasta to wood blocks in fancy patterns is the perfect obsessive activity for me. :) I can see that I could quickly need a lot more storage for my stamp blocks!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Block 19: Farmhouse (or How Sisters can be Full of Deceit)

Ready for another block? It's a big one this week:
Literally big because it is one of my 12" blocks. And also "big" because there were quite a few pieces and sub-units to put together. I didn't want to even think about doing this in the 6" size!

I chose fabrics with lines on them for the windows. I thought they sort of looked like sunstreaks on the windows.
Of course, I chose the fabrics for the entire block with care, but I wasn't really sure how it was going to come together. When it was done and I held it back for a better look, I was pleased that it has a pretty low-contrast look. I'm not crazy about the green fabric on the bottom but if it continues to bother me, I can fairly easily switch it out later. (I have a feeling I won't.) But I did buy a new fat quarter of green fabric so I won't have to use it again if I don't want to!

The only strong contrasting fabric is the chimneys:
I thought about using a softer colour, but I was too enamoured with the little random squares looking a bit like bricks on the chimney! :)

Here is a look at all the blocks done so far in a mock layout:
Things are starting to fill in!
Kim had sent me a message that her block was done, and I hadn't even started mine! I had some stuff going on that week so I let her know that it may be a little bit. But then on Friday evening at 10:00, I looked at the clock and said, "Ok, you have one hour. Let's see what you can do." So I worked on it for one hour...and then just a little bit more, and boom! I had my block done!

So I was able to Skype with Kim the next day and we could share our blocks with each other. Kim got a mischievous little grin on her face and showed me this:
What? That's not the same block! No, it is not. She had redesigned the farm house block to look like the farm house we grew up in! What a little sneak! It's a great block, though, and she was proud of it, as she should be.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...